Future Messages

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In his fascinating book, Treasure Hunt: Follow Your Inner Clues to Find True Success, Rizwan Virk looks at the origin of intuitive clues from two different perspectives, the spiritual and the scientific. The spiritual perspective says many of the intuitive clues we get in life are set up for us in advance and are there to remind us of the life we were meant to live. In this second excerpt, Riz explores the scientific viewpoint, one that involves quantum physics…

One of my favorite scenarios related to communication with the future is from the sci-fi/horror director John Carpenter, in the film Prince of Darkness.

In the film, a team of physicists from Caltech is investigating a series of anomalies near a church for their professor. They have come to believe that the anomalous physical phenomena happening around the church are arising from something (or someone) buried in a unique relic in the basement of the church.

Because it’s a horror film, you know something bad is going to happen. It turns out that the relic is actually some kind of a prison, like an ancient phantom zone, and inside this prison is the Prince of Darkness himself. The team is in danger of setting him loose on the world . . . and if that occurs . . . well . . . you guessed it . . . something very bad will happen!

OK, that doesn’t sound very scientific but this is where it gets interesting. One of the participants starts to have a repeating dream. Then, as the film progresses, we realize that other participants are also having the same dream!

Eventually, the team realizes that the dream isn’t just a dream, and what’s important is not just the fact that they’re all seeing the same thing. The communal dream is actually a message from the future, sent back to the team as a warning not to “unlock” the Prince of Darkness. They are seeing what would happen if the Prince of Darkness is released; their future selves are sending back this message to warn their past selves not to take a certain course of action!

How do they send a message back in time? They don’t have an artificial receiver; the only receiver they have that can get messages from the future is . . . their brain. And their brains interpret these incoming messages as dreams.

The Flow of Time in Common Sense and Quantum Physics

While this scenario is obviously science fiction, it brings up some very interesting concepts about the present, the future, and consciousness as the link between them. Could a scientific team send back messages to themselves to be received by the only instrument capable of interpreting these messages: their own brains?

Let’s start with some common-sense problems with this scenario.

For one thing, if it was possible to send messages from the future to the past, then this would create the potential that the past can be changed. This creates a set of paradoxes that physicists hate, summed up by the grandfather paradox: if a person were to go back and kill their own grandfather, they would never be born. And if they are never born, how is it possible that they went back to kill their grandfather?

Even if you could send information from the future to the past rather than actually go back in time, you could essentially accomplish the same thing—change the past so that the future doesn’t happen!

Most of us experience time in one way: flowing from the past to the present to the future. In this way, we often think of time as a river with a current that flows in only one direction. However, in quantum physics and in many mystical traditions, this view is seen as incomplete.

Time is one of the only non-observables in physics. Unlike position or length, which can be observed directly, the flow of time cannot be observed directly. Instead, we rely on external clocks and use them to measure time: the earth around the sun (years), the rotation of the earth (days), the cycle of the moon, the motion of a pendulum, the turning of gears, down to the atomic clocks that are used for very high precision.

If time only flowed one way, like the current of a river, then the past would contain the causes of the present, and the past combined with choices made in the present would determine the future. This makes sense to us from the perspective of our everyday world. I made a choice to go to college at MIT in the past, which led to my eventual graduation and getting a degree from that university.

Messages From the Future

But in quantum physics, things are not so simple, particularly at the subatomic level. In quantum mechanics, the future is described not as a single point, but as a Quantum Probability Wave, which contains a set of probabilities of future outcomes.

When a choice is made (for example to measure the location or speed of a particle), the most common description in quantum physics is that a probability wave is said to collapse and we get an actual event out of many probable futures.

How does this collapse occur? No one knows for sure, not even the quantum physicists.  But there is considerable suspicion that the probability wave collapses based on mental choices we make.

Physicist John Cramer postulated the transactional interpretation of quantum physics, in which all events that are possible are contained in an offer wave, a wave of probability based on the present moment. This offer wave travels forward in time from the present to the future.

In this model, there is then a corresponding echo wave coming from the future to the present, which is traveling backwards in time. When these waves meet, the points at which they “coincide” with high probabilities become points where the waves superpose each other and a “real” event occurs rather than a “probable event.”

This is a startling interpretation of quantum physics, where information is traveling not just from the past to the future, but raises the possibility of information coming from the future, which can influence the present. In fact, it turns out there is nothing in the quantum equations which prohibits an event at time t2 from influencing an event at time t1 (which occurs before t2).

In his book, Parallel Universes, Fred Alan Wolf summarizes the flow of time: “The best picture, according to quantum physics, is that information flows in both directions simultaneously. The river of time has two counter-streaming currents. Information coming from the future as well as from the past influences the present.”

 

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About Author

Rizwan Virk

Rizwan Virk is a successful entrepreneur, film producer, venture capitalist, and bestselling author of Zen Entrepreneurship: Walking the Path of the Career Warrior. His software products have been used by the largest enterprises in the world, and his video games have been downloaded millions of times, including Tap Fish and Penny Dreadful: Demimonde. He studied at MIT and Stanford, and is currently Executive Director of Play Labs @ MIT, a startup accelerator. Riz lives in Mountain View, CA and Cambridge, MA.

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